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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

October 11 to October 25, 2019

Lake Erie

There is a sandbar forming at the mouth of Sturgeon Point Marina, but boats were still successfully launching out of the harbor at report time. The DEC creel survey indicates that fishing effort has drastically dropped off in October, yet excellent walleye and improving yellow perch prospects remain. Good numbers of walleye are available from Cattaraugus Creek to the PA line in 50-90 feet of water. Worm harnesses and stickbaits run 45-65 feet down have been productive. The Lake Erie Unit sends word that there is a high concentration of 3-year-old walleye (17"-19") in around 60 feet of water off Brocton.

Yellow perch fishing has improved out of a few ports. The bite straight out of Cattaraugus Creek has been more consistent in 50 feet of water. Some decent to good catches have also been reported out of the Catt at depths of 35 feet and 57 feet. The key is to find a school first before dropping lines. Some quality catches have come from depths of 50-60 feet off Sturgeon Point as well. In addition, the Lake Erie Unit warmwater survey also showed solid numbers of perch from east of Dunkirk to west of Cattaraugus Creek in 60-62 feet of water. East winds over the past few days may even drive perch schools shallower, so keep an eye on the electronics for perch schools on the way out.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Cattaraugus Creek remained the best steelhead option this week and will remain so until the area receives significant rain. The Catt currently has a flow of 180 cubic feet per second with about 2 feet of visibility. The best fishing has been on Seneca territory and around Gowanda. There has not been much steelhead action closer to the mouth lately. All of the other Lake Erie tributaries have very low flow and are crystal clear. Rain is badly needed to get something going on those creeks. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Lower Niagara River

Lake trout season is closed on the lower Niagara River as of October 1st and will reopen on January 1st. There are some king salmon around the lower river, however salmon fishing is slower than usual for this time of year. Devils Hole drift is the best option for boaters. Expect to work hard and make every bite count to put a couple in the boat. Controlled drifting with a three-way rig with cured salmon skein is the top technique. Shore anglers are picking up the occasional king salmon from the NYPA platform, Devils Hole and Whirlpool State Parks. Large spoons, Vibrax spinners and cured salmon skein are good offerings. Anglers fishing upstream of Lewiston are also catching the occasional brown trout or steelhead. Anglers report good smallmouth bass action in the lower drifts and out on the Niagara Bar. Drifting with a bottom bouncing rig and live shiners is a good tactic. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario

Fishing for staging king salmon has been slow and spotty off Olcott. There have been some better catches for boats that located pods of salmon. In general, fishing is typically best at dawn for staging salmon, but the bite near dusk can be productive too. Boaters target staging king salmon by trolling with J-Plugs, J-13 Rapalas, flasher-fly combos and large spoons.

Lake Ontario Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

King salmon are available in lighter numbers in the medium to larger tributaries, while some smaller streams lack enough water to pass fish. Eighteenmile Creek currently has moderate to lower flow and clear conditions. Brown trout are present in good numbers and are the dominant catch below Burt Dam, with some real lunkers mixed in. Fair numbers of king salmon are in the pool at base of the dam, but quite thin in the section from there to the trestle. Oak Orchard has moderate to slightly low flow with clear water. King salmon are top catch there with decent to good numbers of kings immediately below the dam. Salmon and brown trout are sparse and scattered below that. Despite lower flow on Johnson Creek, decent numbers of salmon are holding in the upper section. The lower, slow moving sections of Eighteenmile, Oak Orchard and Sandy Creeks are good options for trout and salmon as well. The majority of these sections are only accessible by boat. Target the deeper holes.

Chautauqua Lake

North basin walleye prospects are good at water depths both shallow and deep. An angler reported that his group did very well Sunday afternoon casting for walleye from shore, catching 24 walleye with only 3 shorts in the mix. Swimbaits were key to their success, while stickbaits were practically ignored. The shoreline bite may even be better after dark. A DEC night electrofishing survey this week showed solid numbers of walleye inside 6 feet of water. Other walleye have moved to deeper water and anglers targeting the deeper holes in 30-50 feet of water have done well. Vertical jigging with spoons, jigging Rapalas or medium sized shiners are good bets. South basin trollers continue to catch decent numbers of walleye down the center of the basin in 14-18 feet of water. Muskellunge fishing has been hit or miss. Trolling outside weed edges with large stickbaits or drifting and casting around weed beds are typical muskie tactics. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

Fall is a good time to fish the inland trout streams, as trout are on the feed and many other anglers have shifted focus to the Great Lakes tributaries. The area streams are running low and clear, but water temperatures remain cool. Anglers may see light hatches of isonychia, tricos or BWOs on some streams. Terrestrial and stimulator patterns are also good bets for surface action. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams, Stocked Streams and Stocked Lakes to choose from. Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best streams. Check out the Fishing for Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, fishing equipment and techniques.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.